Full Terror Assault II packed 54 bands from across the metal spectrum of grind, thrash, sludge, and death for another year of incredible open air festivities.

25/27-Aug-2016: Full Terror Assault lived up to its branding as the only “true” open air metal festival in the United States with the second annual edition of three days of metal bliss. The festival made use of the beautiful backdrop of Hogrock Campgrounds, which is tucked away in the woods just outside Cave In Rock, Illinois on the Kentucky border.

Concert goers enjoyed two stages of continuous metal music, an expansive merchandise area to pick up their favorite albums and chat with the bands, and a variety of food vendors. One notable aspect of the event was the BYOB option for “Maximum Brutality @ Maximum Frugality” as FTA strove to be an affordable option to big rock festivals.

As with last year’s festival, campers had options from simple tent camping in the wooded hills near the stages to renting or bringing in campers or RVs for a more civilized experience. The stage setup had changed to provide festival attendees with maximum music exposure. The main National Rock Review stage and the smaller Metal Sucks stage faced each other across a large open field. In between the stages were the massive merchandise tent, food vendor trucks with plenty of picnic tables, and a covered pavilion to get out of the sun and talk metal with friends.

Full Metal Assault Day 1
The festival kicked off on Thursday, August 25 with a Full Terror Assault pre-party. With temperatures in the low 90s and humidity levels set to dense Amazon jungle mode 12, Carpathian Funeral got the sweat rolling early with death metal roars from the gates of Hell on the Metal Sucks stage. As they finished, Blood Tribe kept the classic death metal vibe going with tri-tone riffs inspired by Cannibal Corpse and Malevolent Creation.

Everything Went Black fired up hardcore from St. Louis making sure to use up every inch of the stage as they bashed in the brutal heat. Think of Lucifist as a drinking man’s thrash band with hell-bent riffs that go perfectly with a cold one. A Threat To the Enemy sported a ton of groove with a nod to Machine Head and Pantera in their set beneath the blistering sun.

Nevalra concocted an extremely potent mix of death smelling of the burnt ashes of a dead world consumed in hate. They demonstrated some dazzling technical playing, particularly the drums where serious chops didn’t get over-burdened with blast beats.

For those who enjoy grindcore with a grin, Sexual Atrocities happily obliged. Decked out in their finest metal attire, the guys in Sexual Atrocities played stupidly heavy music that got a hefty pit roiling. Add to this titty beer bong hits and a guy that tears up the pit in a Pabst beer can costume and you have a recipe for delightful mayhem.

As the sun set over the tree line at Full Terror Assault, Kilbury Unit from Warren, Michigan walloped the crowd with primal thrash metal. They added a bit of theater to their set with the lead singer crushing fiery cinder blocks with some impressive hammering fists of metal rage. Bathed in the glow of the stage lights, Airacobra evoked old-school denim and leather metal with a mix of clean and death vocals. These guys had great stage presence and put on a hell of a show. Fun fact: Airacobra were the primary fighter planes for the US in World War II.

Strong Intention from Maryland doused the crowd with unfiltered grind meant to snap necks. The crowd loved these guys, and they had a good pit going for much of their set. Interment made the long journey from Texas to deal a dark hand of old school death metal with tons of low-end thump. Their music featured great guttural vocals resting upon menacing music like a hot slice of Obituary.

Loaded for bear and ready to begin the harvest, Organ Dealer pummeled the crowd with remorseless grind. No quarter was given as their vocalist stalked the stage and incited the crowd into action. Last but not least, Waco Jesus punched up the intensity with a death-dealing grind that conjures the spirit of Napalm Death and Morbid Angel. With bellies full of beer and ears bleeding, the crowd headed off to various campsite parties which carried on until the dawn.

Full Metal Assault Day 2
Friday, August 26 was the official start to Full Terror Assault II. At 11 am, the heat and humidity were back to ensure a full day of metal would entail plenty of drinking to stay alive. Getting a pit going early was Gutted Alive. Venomous croaking vocals and screams bring this gore strewn death metal to life. The band unloaded quite a few of their unique “Force Fed Acid” shirts.

Bleed The Victim brought full-bore thrash with a technical edge to the National Rock Review stage. From start to finish these guys from Topeka, Kansas tore up the stage with rapid-fire riffs. Koza loomed large in the withering summer heat with vocal razors pissing over muddy riffs soaked in Tennessee white lightning. Keeping the heavy stoner grooves filled with a boatload of thunderous rhythms, the Mound Builders drew a crowd to the main stage to enjoy music that fans of High On Fire would dig.

Representing the gooey smore-like center of Detroit hardcore noise goodness was Child Bite. The heat was no match for this band’s hysterical music which is delightfully free-form and monstrous in presentation. Dismemberment received many post-fest nods for one of the best death-thrash band on the bill. They gave the crowd thrashing riff madness infected with black shadows of death. They bring to life a new chapter from the glory days when bands like Dissection, Kreator, and Death ruled the land.

Product of Hate put on a stellar show with fierce metal full of hooks and daggers. They swung hard with tons of grooves like Pantera on bath salts. A cacophony of blast beats with throat punching vocals amidst a barrage of tritone and chromatic riffs best describes the beautiful melee of a set from Embalmer.

Starkill are returning Full Terror Assault veterans and one of the few melodic death bands on the bill. Like the great orchestral metal bands such as Children of Bodom, the lads in Starkill put on an amazing set of technical musicianship combined with elegant songwriting. These guys are also master performs and put on a terrific show making sure to play to the crowd while having a ton of fun.

The Lion’s Daughter weaves an intriguing mix of doom, sludge, and death. Their music radiates anger and aggression with plenty of meat on the bone. Raspy death vocals and an abundance of head-banging marked the set from Aggravator who thrashed like the titans Kreator and Sodom.

Have blast beats on iPod, will travel could be the calling card for Putrid Pile. This one-man grindcore band gave the crowd plenty of pig snorting delight. The pit was full of people bouncing around in the pit and playing with blow-up animals.

Lord Dying have been crossing the states with Child Bite and were a late addition to the Full Terror Assault line-up. This was a boon for the fans as this amazing band defies categorization. Earth trembling riffs with glorious changes and dynamic drums easily made this one of the defining sets at the festival.

Abigail Williams unveiled an outstanding performance of symphonic black metal. Intriguing interludes between songs and no bullshit talking kept the music at the center of attention. With the evening twilight’s glow subsiding, this music cast a bewitching spell.

Finland’s finest grindcore band, Rotten Sound unleashed complete musical mayhem. Bone jarring drums and searing vocals laid the foundation for the band’s unbridled chaos.

Shining took 20 years to make it to the United States, and they made damn sure to include Full Terror Assault, which drew a large and enthusiastic crowd. The Shining defy genres and blur the lines of metal and rock music. There is a definite doom influence with dynamic time changes that create a variety of moods. Lead singer, Niklas Kvarforth is a commanding presence on the stage. While all the musicians in the band are talented, the guitar playing of Peter Huss and Euge Valovirta was mesmerizing.

An approaching mass of dark clouds and lightning appeared as if summoned by Belphegor to create a foreboding backdrop to the main stage which transformed into a hellish altar. The band tore into a set of vicious death metal full of theatrics. As their performance came to a close, the lightning drew near, and the rain began to fall.

At first, the rain was light, but that only lasted until Origin was ready to play and then the skies opened and water poured down in sheets. The band was covered leaving diehard fans to brave the storm as they witnessed mathematically technical death played at supersonic speeds. A special nod to Origin’s drummer John Longstreth whose hands were a blur and had the kick drum hammering like a high-speed drill into your forehead.

Rain continued to fall with a few spectacular lightning strikes as Dying Fetus closed out the first full day of Full Terror Assault. As classic death metal filled the air, the fans got wild and crazy in the mud having a grand time in the slosh pit.

Full Metal Assault Day 3
As the sun rose on Saturday, August 27, it was clear that the previous night’s storm had done little to abate the heat and humidity. Quite a few campers reported water-logged tents, but despite the damage, spirits were high. Everyone was thoroughly enjoying the festival and looking forward to one last day of metal. The storm seemed to have hatched butterflies as the FTA grounds were abuzz with the little creatures flitting about. Nothing says metal like butterflies in the late summer sun.

The music started a little later than anticipated due to a couple of last-minute lineup changes. Instead of the smaller Metal Sucks stage getting started first, the main stage beckoned the crowd with the mammoth riffs of doom from Fister. Hazy clouds gave way to a bright blue sky as rasping vocals roared at the sun.

Hate Unbound made the journey down from Detroit to ravish the crowd with their technical death/thrash. The mud pit from the previous night had people slipping in front of the stage as they head-banged with the band. The group drew a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd, and together they raged beneath the scorching star.

Ready to lay waste to eardrums in a blizzard of technical death was Alustrium from Philly. This young band put on a hell of a performance with music that reminded listeners of Suffocation and Between The Buried and Me. Representing the murder city of Chicago, Pale Horseman called up brooding doom, sludge metal with heavy vocals and devastating low-end power. This band caught the attention of many at the festival with their sound.

Detriment came to play old school hardcore with plenty of attitude and a middle finger of fun. Think of the sounds of bands such as Sick of it All and Biohazard and you’d be in the ballpark of from where this outfit is coming. S.N.A.F.U enthralled the crowded with their punk-infused thrash from the glass-strewn streets of Detroit. They were a tornado of flying hair and abrasive riffs, with three vocalists trading maniacal screams. The band used the oppressive heat as fuel to fire their rage filled music.

Digging into raw metal sound with aggressive punk overtones is the Stonecutters from Louisville, Kentucky. They were a wellspring of energy as they jammed tunes reminiscent of Kylesa or Black Tusk with great guitar solos. This is a phenomenal band that should be heard across the globe. Harkening back to the speed metal days of bullet belts and spikes, the guys in ThorHammer whipped out speed and thrash with the best of them. They guys from Hammer Fight pulled up lawn chairs and enjoyed the show from the center of the pit.

Blurring features members of Brutal Truth and Nuclear Assault, namely Dan Lilker (bass) and Erik Burke (drums), along with Mark Welden (vocals), Mathew Colbert (guitars), and Scott DiAgostino (guitars). Together they produced an onslaught of blasts with twisted guitars and tortured vocals.

Cognitive displayed their brand of dissonant death metal with odd-time signatures. Wizardly guitar solos mixed into the black pit of reeking chaos they created. They got a great reception with plenty of people stomping around in the mud.

A hurricane of death metal best describes the performance by Gorgasm. Throat-ripping vocals riding a torrent of tormented music received cheers from the crowd and plenty of action in the pit. Sacrifical Slaughter flew in from California to serve up a heaping helping of death with some thrash elements. The reception from the crowd was robust with the Pabst can getting busy in the pit as the band wailed.

The godfathers of Chicago death metal, Master were more than pleased to soak the fans in their uncompromising and honest metal music. This band is like the Motorhead of death metal and the crowd loved every minute of their performance.

Die Choking from Philly put on a hypersonic show of grind. They fired off tunes in rapid succession with pinpoint accuracy and maximum sonic force. The members of the band are superb players, but hats off to their drummer who is spellbinding to watch as he flies across the drum kit with inhuman precision.

With twilight fading, Cephalic Carnage took the stage and put on a clinic of experimental and progressive death and grind. These guys also have a great sense of humor and made the crowd part of their show. Awash in red lights, the grindcore legends Lock Up proceeded to rend limbs from bodies with a mind-numbing aural attack. No matter the age, these guys are still the kings of grind.

Mobile Deathcamp is a blitzkrieg of fantastic thrash and played with hearts full of metal to a crowd that was ready to let the horns fly. Todd Evans (guitar/vocals) is a great frontman who kept the humor level high in between no holds bar metal made in the mighty Midwest. For blue collar thrash that is energizing and fun, look to Mobile Deathcamp to hook you up.

Hammer Fight is a great name for a no-bullshit straight up speed metal band. These dudes can thrash it up and enjoy throwing back a few cold ones in the process. However, don’t let the rock n’ roll attitude fool you as this band has serious chops and put on a hell of a musical performance. They were the perfect band to set the stage for the headliners of the final day of Full Terror Assault.

The festival came to a spectacular conclusion with the legendary Sacred Reich. Phil Rind (bass/vocals), Wiley Arnett (guitar), Jason Rainey (guitar), and Greg Hall (drums) all looked like they were having a blast on stage playing for fans that knew many of the songs by heart. Full Terror Assault was the band’s only festival appearance in the US after having done a string of festivals in Europe. Necks thrashed to the “American Way”, “One Nation”, “Love…Hate”, and “Who’s To Blame”. Phil had everyone in the audience give their neighbor a hug in a show of the power of positivity in a world of negativity.

Sacred Reich played with passion and showed that they had not lost a bit of their chops. They also proved that their music stands the test of time. Their cover of “War Pigs” is still the best version of that song besides the original. They wrapped up their exhilarating set with “Independent” and an encore of “Surf Nicaragua”.

Full Terror Assault once again demonstrated the power of metal music. For three days, metalheads shared music, food, beverages, and a ton of laughs. No matter the weather, the metal faithful enjoyed every ounce of energy that the musicians poured out. Many thanks to the festival staff and the fine people at the Hogrock Campgrounds for putting this wonderful festival together and giving us all many metal memories to savor for years to come.